Bipartisan bill seeks to elevate the federal CIO position

On Wednesday, Texas Rep. Will Hurd and Illinois Rep. Robin Kelly introduced a bipartisan bill that would reorganize how IT is managed throughout the federal government. The bill, the Federal CIO Authorization Act of 2018, would make a handful of changes with the intention of making the government run more smoothly and securely.

Among those changes, the bill would rename the Office of E-Government, the department overseen by the federal CIO, to the “Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer.” Second, it would “elevate” the federal CIO position so that the position reports to the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) instead of the deputy director, as it stands now. Beyond those changes, the bill would make the federal chief information security officer (CISO) position report directly to the federal CIO.

While CIOs within individual government agencies report directly to agency directors, the federal CIO role has not been elevated in the same way. The decision to further empower agency CIOs, enacted through an executive order in May, aimed to “better position agencies to modernize their IT systems” and to reduce cybersecurity risk by streamlining the way agency CIO roles functioned. The federal CIO bill has the same goals in mind.

“No entity can operate securely and efficiently without a CIO in the year 2018, including the federal government,” Rep. Hurd said of the proposal. “This bill does more than just rename an office. It makes a clear statement that the Federal CIO is in charge of coordinating IT policy across the government in order to ensure that our agencies are able to provide better, faster and more cost-efficient services for the American people.”

Rep. Kelly added that the bill seeks to “streamline government IT processes,” part of a broader effort to bring government technology — and the positions that manage it — up to date.